Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

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Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Coordinates: 41°22′06″N 2°09′12″E / 41.36833°N 2.15333°E / 41.36833; 2.15333

The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, abbreviated as MNAC (Catalan pronunciation: , meaning in English: National Art Museum of Catalonia) is a museum of Catalan visual art located in Barcelona, Catalonia. It is housed in the Palau Nacional, built for the 1929 World's Fair. Situated on the Montjuïc hill at the end of Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, it was rehabilitated for the 1992 Summer Olympics.

The museum was located in this building in 1990, when the Catalonian Museum Law reunited the collections of the former Museu d'Art de Catalunya (Catalonian Art Museum) and the Museu d'Art Modern (Modern Art Museum), and declared it the national museum. The new museum thus combined Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art collections from the Museu d'Art de Catalunya with the 19th and 20th century art collections of the Museu d'Art Modern, and incorporated the Gabinet de Dibuixos i Gravats (Department of Drawings and Prints), the Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya (Catalonia Department of Numismatics; coinage and medals) and the Biblioteca d'Història de l'Art (Art History Library). In 1996, the Department of Photography was created.

The museum opened in 1995, with the Romanesque art section. The Gothic art section was opened in 1997, while the Renaissance, Baroque, 19th century and 20th century collections opened in 2000. The official opening, with the building completely rehabilitated and all the collections in place, was in 2004.

The original Museu d'Art de Catalunya was opened in 1934 at the same location as today, but was closed during the Spanish Civil War. It was reopened from 1940 to 1942. In 1945, the Modern Art Museum opened in the Arsenal of the Ciutadella park.

Since 2004, the MNAC accommodates works of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. The works were exposed in the Monastery of Pedralbes but it was decided to move them to facilitate the visits of the public. Paintings of the periods included between the Gothic period and the rococo are shown.

The building

The National Palau of Montjuïc was constructed between 1926 and 1929, with the goal to be the main building of the International Exhibition of Barcelona of 1929, for an Exhibition of Spanish Art (The Arte in España), with more than 5.000 works coming from throughout Spain.

The building is a work of Eugenio Cendoya and Enric Catà, under the supervision of Pere Domènech i Roura, rejecting an initial project of Puig i Cadafalch and Guillem Busquets. It shows a symmetrical main façade, with a central body which stands out and two lateral ones; the central body is crowned all the set of the façade by a dome of roman, dominant style and accompanies itself to the sides of two smaller domes. The four angles of the big Hall are compound for some towers of square plant that integrate into the composition of the façade exterior.

The work has an area of 32.000 m² and is from classicist style, inspired in the Spanish Renaissance. It has a rectangular floor with two lateral bodies and one of posterior square, with a big dome on the part central. The waterfalls and fountains of the outside staircase of the Palau would be a work of Carles Buïgas. In the same period nine big projectors that today still issue some intense bundles of light that write the name of the city in the sky were placed.

In its show the opening ceremony of the exhibition The Arte was made in España, presided by the king Alphonse XIII and the queen Victòria Eugènia.

In the decoration of the Palau -of art nouveau style (contrarily to the classicism of l'estructura)-, several artists, like the sculptors Enric Casanovas, Josep Dunyach, Frederic Marès and Josep Llimona, and the painters Francesc d'Assís Galí, intervened Josep de Togores, Manuel Humbert, Josep Obiols, Joan Colom and Francesc Labarta. From 1934 it is the headquarters|venue of the MNAC.

In year 1985 the first projects started to be discussed for rehabilitating the building, but it was not until 1990 that the works of restitution started according to the project of the architects Gae Aulenti and Enric Steegmann. The year 1992 the rehabilitation of the Oval Room and the consolidation and partial structural adequacy of the building was carried out, as well as the restructuring of two galleries temporals.

Among 1995 and 2004 the palace suffered several reforms and enlargements in charge of Gae Aulenti, Enric Steegmann, Josep Benedito and Agustí Obiol, with the goal to create spaces for being able to squeeze in all the works of the col·lecció. The works were ordered to Eduard Carbonell, the director of the museum in that moment.

The zone of the Palau that needed a more complex reform was the wing where the Romanesque art is set forth. The first floor|plant had to be disassembled, went reinforce the dome and went construct new walls and panels, in more of changing all facilities of certainty|security. In order to guarantee some favorable conditions of conservation (damp|humidity, heat...) in February of 1995 the collection had to be moved from Romanesque apses, under the supervision of Aulenti. The goal of the architectural reform was "to gather the past and the present, to preserve the philosophical and moral needs of the building", becoming interested especially in the subject of the lighting. Because of that lights were placed arran de terra focusing to the apses, leaving some points of the rooms more darkened so that the environment of the Romanesque esglesioles was replayed. Many of the restorations were carried out by Gianluigi Colalucci and its|his|her|their equipment|team, restaurateurs also of the Chapel Sixtina del Vaticà.

Sections
  • Romanesque art: This collection contains mainly Catalan art from the 11th-13th centuries (with some works pre-dating this period). The most significant part of this collection are the internationally important wall-paintings of Romanesque churches and chapels around Catalonia that have been transferred to the museum, including the fragmentary remains of the cycle by English artists from Sigena, and sculptures like the Batllo Crucifix.
  • Gothic art: Catalan art from the 13th-15th centuries, along with some Italian art.
  • Renaissance and Baroque art: Spanish, Italian and Flemish art from the 16th-18th centuries. The collection was started with the local art and augmented mostly through donations, specially that of the Francesc Cambó collection.
  • Modern art: Catalan art from the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, including photography and the decorative arts. Notable are the works of Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Isidre Nonell, Pau Gargallo and the modernist decorative arts of Antoni Gaudí. Picasso's Woman in Hat and Fur Collar can be found in this section, too.
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: A collection of works deposited by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It includes pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque. It also includes a collection of Catalan art belonging to the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, from the mid-19th century to the second half of the 20th century.
  • Department of Drawings and Prints: collection of drawings, prints and posters from the last 17th century to the historical avant-gardes.
  • Photography collection: Photographs from the 19th century to mid-1990s.
  • Numismatics collection: Coins, medals and paper money from VI BC to the present day. Outstanding is the collection of pieces from Catalonia and the neighbouring territories.
In popular culture
  • The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is a featured locale in the 2009 video game Wheelman, published by Midway Games.
  • This place was also the 11th pitstop of the 4-time Emmy Award winning reality show The Amazing Race 10.